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eBay dropshipping: the no hype guide

Last updated July 7, 2023 8 min to read
eBay Dropshipping
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Dropshipping on eBay is a popular way to start a business with minimal upfront investment or risk. Unfortunately, the internet is full of over-hyped (less-than-helpful) guides that might make this opportunity seem larger than life.

Is eBay dropshipping actually worth it? And if it is, what steps should you take to be successful? In this guide, we’ll walk you through how you can start dropshipping on eBay in just a few steps. 

What is eBay dropshipping?

eBay dropshipping involves selling items on eBay, then working with your supplier to ship them directly to customers. Instead of holding inventory or creating the product, sellers focus on eCommerce marketing, customer service, and finding new products to sell.

To start your own eBay dropshipping business, you’ll need to find products, source them from a supplier and list your items on eBay. Many sellers will use the exact images, product titles, and descriptions provided by their suppliers. When a shopper buys from your eBay listing, the details are passed along to the supplier, who is then responsible for shipping the product to the customer.

Your profit comes from purchasing products at a wholesale price and then reselling them at a higher price.

The rules of eBay dropshipping

Dropshipping on eBay is permitted, providing you follow rules to ensure your store is managed reputably. Here’s how to stay above board:

1. Guarantee delivery within 30 days of the end of the listing

This can be a challenge for sellers because the shipping time isn’t in your control. You need to find an efficient and trust-worth supplier. Make sure you’re constantly monitoring their progress and keep an eye out for delays.

2. Don’t resell products from another retailer or marketplace

You can’t sell an item on eBay, then order the item from Amazon or Walmart and ship directly to your customer. Not only is it confusing for the customer to receive an Amazon package in the mail, but it also means they can’t track shipping.

An important point: you can still use Amazon FBA for eBay fulfillment. The difference is you’ll be using Amazon’s fulfillment services rather than buying the product on their marketplace. Find out more about this method of eBay dropshipping in the article below.

Related article: Using Amazon FBA for eBay Fulfillment

3. Deliver the product as-advertised at the quality customers expect

If your description and the product don’t line up, you can expect negative reviews and returns.

Every negative review you receive will make it harder to rank well in eBay’s search algorithm and you’ll risk losing your eBay stars! If you receive too many complaints, eBay will even shut down your store.

Simply put; don’t try to trick customers into buying your product!

Is eBay dropshipping worth it?

The key to successful dropshipping is a healthy profit margin. In many cases dropshippers will only make a few dollars profit off of each purchase.

Obviously, this depends on the price of the product you’re selling but many dropshipping stores will start off with medium to low ticket items. This is a natural tendency for new sellers who want to minimize risk.

If you’re looking for lots of low ticket sales, eBay can deliver the volume of shoppers you need. In Q2 of 2019, they boasted 182 million users.

Be careful when choosing your eCommerce niche, however. High ticket items can be risky, but cheap products endanger your margins. If you lose your margin entirely, you’re in big trouble!

Related article: Find a Profitable eCommerce Niche: With Examples!

eBay Dropshipping Fees

You have a few different costs to deal with when dropshipping on eBay. eBay’s own fees for using their marketplace as well as your suppliers’ fees. The main eBay dropshipping fees are in the table below:

Insertion fees Also called listing fees, you get 50 free per month, and beyond that the fee for listing an item in most categories is just $0.35.
Final value fees Also known as selling fees, these fees are a percentage of an item’s total sales price. For most sellers, it’s just 10% or even lower.
Listing upgrades With optional upgrades like international site visibility, larger photos, and more, you’ve got the power to attract more buyers.
Fees in select categories Fees are different in certain categories, including motor vehicles, real estate, and business and industrial items.

The two essential fees to consider are the listing fees (the cost to post your item, regardless of whether it sells), and the final value fees (calculated on the item’s final sale price).

You can calculate potential fees for your listings using an eBay fee calculator.

The best items to dropship on eBay

When choosing products for your eBay dropshipping business, it’s important to be strategic. You’ll want to identify items that are in demand, but that aren’t already being sold by a ton of other sellers. Otherwise, it will be hard to compete and that means lowering your prices.

Remember what we said about the dangers of a margins earlier? You’ll want to choose items that you can make a profit from and that you can source easily. The sweet spot is in the $40-$150 range. Any lower and your profit margin shrinks. Higher, and it’s more difficult to convert potential buyers. Remember, more expensive items can also be more expensive to ship, which again cuts into your profit margin.

Finally, consider finding products that can be posted as multiple-item listings. You can make the listing once, tell eBay the size of your inventory and they will keep track for you. This way, you’ll spend less time dealing with posting and listing and have more time to deal with customer service.

Here are some examples of some great items to dropship on eBay:

  • Bluetooth Headphones
  • Organic Tea
  • Vaporizers and E-Cigarettes
  • Waterproof Bags
  • Resistance Bands
  • Baby Carriers

Related article: Product Sourcing 101: The Ultimate Guide

How to start your eBay dropshipping business

You’ve found your winning products and are ready to go. How do you get started?

1. Find a trusted supplier

The supplier you choose can make or break your business. They’re responsible for the storing and shipping of the product, so your reputation is in their hands.

When choosing a dropshipping supplier, consider these key factors:

  • What shipping options do they have available? Can they offer expedited shipping? 
  • How long does it take orders to ship? Does the supplier have a history of satisfied customers?
  • How do they conduct quality control? Do they have good customer reviews
  • Can you use their marketing material (photos, specs, and descriptions) in your eBay listings?

A word of warning here: this is a critically important stage to get right. Make sure you find a supplier you can trust. eBay Dropshipping is a great business model when you get it right, but there is potential to be scammed if you partner with a dodgy supplier!

2. Sample your goods

Reputation is everything when selling on eBay.

Sellers often make the mistake of assuming a supplier’s goods are exactly as advertised and start to sell immediately. But if you take orders for products you haven’t seen, and your customers receive something different to your promotional materials, you’re setting yourself up for bad reviews.

Nothing kills an eBay dropshipping business faster than receiving customer complaints early on, so always keep those buyers happy. Request a sample order from your supplier first to make sure that you’re happy with the quality of your future products.

3. Set up your eBay seller account

If you aren’t already selling on eBay, you’ll need your own seller account. Make sure to choose a professional username to build your brand with. To open an eBay account, you only need an email address. To open a business account, you’ll need a business name, type, and address.

4. Choose your payment provider

Secondly, you’ll need to connect a payment provider. Most first-time eBay dropshipping sellers will use PayPal, because it’s free and simple to get started with. Another option is Stripe. Stripe tends to be favored by larger businesses as it offers more potential for customization.

5. Create your product listings

Your product listings have the biggest impact on your conversion rate. By creating professional product descriptions with high-quality images, you can convince shoppers that your product is the best option for them. Product listings that are well written are more likely to rank higher on eBay’s search engine and be returned as a Best Match.

Related article: 14 Essential Hacks to Increase eBay Sales

When shoppers are comparing your product to your competitors, they have a list of questions they are asking themselves:

  • Is this the exact item I’m looking for?
  • Does this item have the specific feature(s) I’m interested in?
  • How quickly will my item arrive?
  • Am I dealing with a trustworthy seller?

If you can answer all of these questions with your product description, you’ll be far more likely to win the customer’s business.

6. Set your pricing effectively

One of the most interesting features of eBay is its unique pricing structure. You can choose to allow customers to bid on items, set a specific starting bid, or offer Buy it Now pricing. By pricing your items on eBay effectively, you can maximize your profits and sell more items.

The best way to ensure that you make a profit is to set a starting bid that ensures you’ll cover any fixed costs (such as product cost, shipping, and eBay’s listing fees). From there, you can set Buy it Now prices that meet your profit goals.

eBay also offers pricing recommendations based on other similar items which can help give you a good starting point. Make sure you similar items as an additional reference point, however. eBay will naturally want you to sell at the lowest price possible.

eBay pricing recommendations

If you’re a multichannel seller, you need to be very careful that your eBay prices don’t dip below those on Amazon. If this happens, Amazon is likely to suspend your listings.

For Amazon sellers thinking of expanding onto eBay, try using repricer.com. Its multichannel pricing feature will replicate your Amazon prices to eBay so you’re selling at a consistent price on both marketplaces.

Related article: How to Master Multichannel Pricing on eBay and Amazon

7. Manage and maintain your brand

Once you’ve set up your product listings on eBay, your priority is to build a strong, positive relationship with your customers. You can do this by quickly dealing with any questions or issues they might have.

eBay’s own customer service portal isn’t really designed for professional online sellers, so has limited functionality. For example, incoming messages from the same person are not consolidated into a thread – this can get very messy, very fast!

Using an eCommerce helpdesk is essential for sellers who take customer service seriously. eDesk integrates with every major online marketplace, including eBay, along with inventory management software and social channels. With every piece of information you need on a single screen, you’ll find customer service quick and easy to manage.

eDesk customer support software

When responding to customer inquiries, remember to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Respond quickly: customers don’t want to wait for answers. eDesk users are able to take advantage of A.I. powered one-click responses to solve queries in the blink of an eye!
  • Be polite and friendly: the tone of your email can turn around an angry customer. Use your customer service skills to create a positive outcome!
  • Resolve the issue: use order details and tracking information to find the best solution to the customer’s questions. With eDesk, these are displayed with your communication and message history. This means you won’t have to go far to solve an issue.

8. Ask for feedback!

Once orders start rolling in, don’t forget to ask for feedback from happy customers. Remember, positive reviews help your listings’ visibility and this increases your eBay sales.

Feedback by eDesk helps increase your seller rating by sending smart, selective feedback requests that improve your brand reputation and grow your business. You can tailor your strategy to target orders by SKU, product type, on-time delivery, destination and more.

Related article: The Best eBay Software for Online Sellers

Final words

There is a lot of hype surrounding eBay dropshipping, but if you put the effort in, it can be a highly profitable business model. There are many factors at play, but sales volume is the key to profit and great service is the key to sales.

As with anything on eBay, sellers are responsible for both the item and their buyer’s satisfaction. If there’s a problem, it’s up to you to resolve it, not the supplier. That’s why it’s important to work with a reliable sourcing company to avoid any issues in the first place.

Keep your finger on the pulse at all times, respond to customers quickly and you’ll be well on your way to running a successful eBay dropshipping business.

Did you know that over 60% of US online retail purchases were made through Amazon last year? Amazon’s hold over eCommerce is well established, with 9.1 million active Amazon sellers worldwide and an average of 66 thousand orders per day. Newer sellers may be wondering how they can get more sales on Amazon in such a competitive environment.

The truth is, they absolutely can because with Amazon’s booming market share come many opportunities. We’ve assembled this digestible list of 14 quick wins and strategic moves, to help you up your game and sell more on Amazon.

1. Do keyword research

Having the right keywords can be one of the most important tactics in reaching your target audiences. Using the keywords that are common to searches for your products is the objective, but search engine optimisation (SEO) is a constantly evolving game. That means that keywords used successfully in the past may not be as effective with updated search engine algorithms today.

The terms used by customers to find products change daily and are affected by seasonal, cultural, and economic factors. Hence, it’s important to stay on top of the latest SEO trends and make sure you cast a wide net when implementing keywords for each product listing.

Each product should be optimized with as many relevant keywords as possible – into the hundreds! This gives you the best possible chance of getting your products found by customers, helping you sell more on Amazon.

Amazon keyword research tools like Helium 10, SellerApp, Jungle Scout, and AMZ One can help by generating a list of related keywords with search volume, competition level, and other useful metrics, making it easier for you to choose the best keywords for your product listing

2. Use a repricing tool to get more sales on Amazon

When it comes to sealing the deal and making a sale, price is a main deciding factor for many customers. As an Amazon seller, you always want to make sure you’re pricing your products competitively, but equally, you don’t want to lose your margin! 

This is something that using repricing software can help with. Repricing software automates the pricing process in real-time, ensuring your prices stay in line with those of competitors, and with market fluctuations, while you get more sales on Amazon.

Repricing software also has many customisable features that allow you to set prices at optimal levels to help drive sales, without compromising profit. It’s worth taking a trial to see how it can help lift your sales. 

3. Get more Amazon reviews

Online reviews are important to spread confidence through word of month and for building credibility for your brand. It’s also a fact that 72% of shoppers won’t buy until they’ve read reviews of a product from people like themselves – people they trust. 

Even a strong product with great marketing behind it still has to overcome the fear of the unknown if there’s no social proof. Plus, positive reviews are a significant factor in deciding which products win the Amazon Buy Box.

Get more Amazon reviews by encouraging feedback from your customers. The best way to do this is by utilizing feedback software to automate the process.

4. Provide great customer service

Customer service is absolutely essential in eCommerce. Offering top-quality customer service not only adds value, but helps retain customers. A big part of making a sale is assuring the customer that they can trust you to deliver, and that trust is hard earned but easily lost. Providing good eCommerce customer service is critical, and committing to providing great customer service is all the more so!

As an Amazon seller, you need to be on top of your customer service. Responsiveness, a friendly manner and quick and easy resolution processes are all ingredients that make for a winning approach to great customer service. 

But it can be confusing trying to streamline it all. Thankfully, there are all sorts of tools available to make this job easier, like helpdesk software to keep all your customer interactions in one place. This helps you to respond quickly and accurately to customer inquiries when they come in, so that your customers always know you’ve got their back.

5. Leverage Amazon seller tools

The best part about being an Amazon seller is that you don’t have to go it alone. There are numerous tools available to help you maximize your business and get the most out of selling on Amazon, whether third-party or FBA. 

From repricing tools, to help desk software, to review software and even shipping assistance, many tools exist on the market today that specifically help Amazon sellers optimize their listings, prices, feedback, shipping, customer service and even their taxes. 

There are many different seller tools available, so it’s worth reading about options and making an informed decision about the right ones to choose for your business. With the right tools, you can grow your business more than you ever thought possible. 

6. Get more sales on Amazon with ads

Running ads is almost guaranteed to help you get more sales on Amazon, but it’s easy to just throw money at them and hope for the best. You can do better! Pay attention to your advertising cost of sales (ACOS) metric, the figure for how much ad spend you need in order to make a sale.

By advertising more efficiently, you lower your ACOS and ensure you get more bang for your buck. Over time, you’ll learn what works and you can employ a strategy with regards to how you run your ads. Taking an insight-driven approach to Amazon ads results in a more profitable Amazon business!

7. Optimise your product pages

The old saying goes that 80% of readers never make it past the headline of any piece of content. That means once you’ve written your product title, you’ve effectively spent 80 cents of your dollar.

When writing product titles, stick to the formula of:

  • Brand name
  • Product name
  • Features (size, colour, gender etc). 

This lets you include the right keywords in the right order to immediately tell shoppers that this is the product for them.

Moreover, making sure to visually design your product pages so that they’re clean, simple and easy to read will also help win over shoppers. No one wants to read through a cluttered page. The more straightforward (yet informative) and the cleaner you make your design, the more likely you’ll be to win over those elusive eyeballs!

8. Win the Amazon Buy Box

The quickest way to get more sales on Amazon is by ensuring that your products show up consistently in the Amazon Buy Box (the area in the top right of a product page, where shoppers can ‘Add to Cart’ or ‘Buy Now’). This is because over 82% of sales happen through this highly sought after space.

Although the exact formula to win the Buy Box is unknown, there are a few things that we know are essential. These are mainly metrics that prove the seller is providing a good customer experience. Customer reviews play a big role here. The more positive reviews a seller can amass, the likelihood of winning the Buy Box increases. 

In addition to reviews, something else that’s obviously very important to Amazon shoppers is price! By using repricing software, you can automatically set your prices at the optimal level to win the Buy Box and maximize profit, even if you’ve got an enormous inventory.

9. Amazon account health rating

The Amazon account health rating (AHR) is a new feature that helps you monitor your account health based on its adherence to Amazon seller policies. 

It considers both negative factors (such as the number of unresolved policy violations on your account) as well as positive factors (how your account positively impacts the customer experience through its selling activities). 

Each account will be given a rating, which is regularly reviewed as Amazon monitors the performance of its sellers. If your account is off-target, you will be notified so that you can improve your performance. Conversely, a good AHR rating will work in your favor, helping assure customers that they’re doing business with a compliant seller. 

10. Maintain your Amazon SLA

A big part of being a seller is cultivating trust with your customers. That means showing them that you operate in an above-board manner and that you’ll make good on your promise of fulfillment to them. One way of doing that is by making sure your Amazon store has a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is a promise to your customers that they’ll receive their orders on time. When it comes to fulfillment, the SLA is based on the capacity to fulfill open orders and on-time shipping and delivery. 

SLAs help manage customer expectations by defining standards and outlining circumstances under which you as the seller won’t be liable for unfulfilled promises (e.g., natural disasters preventing shipping, etc). 

eDesk’s customer service solution is designed to alert you when your SLA is expiring, so your business is never caught without one. Having a current SLA helps you maintain transparency with customers, thereby building trust which helps ensure customer loyalty.  

11. Focus on products that already sell

Most ambitious business owners want to try new streams of revenue, but it’s important not to lose sight of the things that are making you money now. 

By doubling down on the products that already provide your Amazon store with a reliable revenue stream, you not only deliver to market demand but ensure that you have the financial runway required to take risks on innovative new products, if need be. 

Review your financial statements every quarter and look at the items that are performing best in your store. Think about how you can continue to market these with ads, SEO keywords and upgraded images to maximize their selling potential in your online store. 

12. Sync your inventory

Inventory can be a delicate balancing act. Hold too much inventory for too long and you need to pay over the odds to store it. But hold too little inventory and you lose out on vital sales, or even customers, due to an inability to fulfill. Amazon can also penalize you if your inventory performance isn’t up to standard.

Stock control is something every seller needs to understand and have the capability to manage for optimal results. Smart inventory management is an under-appreciated way to increase your Amazon sales and profit margin. Fortunately, there are tools that can help. Investing in the right tools and software can help sellers take the stress out of balancing supply and demand.

13. Expand into new Amazon marketplaces 

Amazon currently has 20 marketplaces around the world, which include the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Singapore, Brazil, Australia and more. 

You can scale your brand by moving into some of these marketplaces. This can involve doing market research to find out which products are popular in each market and then uplevelling your shipping operations in order to be able to ship globally.  

But expanding into new markets also means you’ll need to take language into consideration and localize your listings so that they feature each marketplace’s local language and SEO keywords in the appropriate language. Multilingual customer service is also needed in order to be able to service customers across various marketplaces in their local language. 

Sounds complicated? It doesn’t have to be. eDesk’s help desk solution is designed to support customer service and workflow in multiple languages, so you can expand your business without investing in the overhead of hiring a global team. 

14. Spy on your competitors

Ok, maybe “spy” is a bit of an exaggeration, but profitable sellers are always on the lookout for what their competitors are doing. You want to make sure you’re offering the right inventory for your market at the right prices. Repricing software will monitor this for you, taking the guesswork out of pricing at the right levels. 

Using data gleaned from helpdesk reporting can also help you gather valuable insights and feedback from your customers, which will help you to better understand what customers want and need. Acting on analytics-driven insights from easy-to-read reports means you’re always one step ahead of the competition. 

Final thoughts

The quest to increase your store’s Amazon sales doesn’t need to be an uphill struggle. There are many resources available to Amazon sellers today to help them optimize their store and develop a healthy sales pipeline. 

By staying in touch with how the Amazon platform grows and using the right tech tools to drive your business, you can continue to do what you do best: building a great brand, winning customers, retaining existing customers and improving your bottom line. 

Looking for more great content like this? We’ve curated a list of related resources for you down below 

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